March 6, 2009


I'm getting really excited to see Up! I finally watched Wall-E a few days ago and was struck yet again by how brilliant Pixar can be. They so rarely disappoint, knowing exactly how to paint a scene to render it most affecting. I'm expecting the dog with the talking collar in the new Up trailer above to affect my laugh-hard-wet-pants centre quite a bit when the film hits theatres on May 29th.

Click on over to Yahoo Movies for links to the HD versions of the trailer.

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August 14, 2008
Film festival venues can be overwhelming and conference venues can be overwhelming, but when you combine them... well, the experience hovers somewhat above the horizon. That said, here are some tidbits:

1. Much discussion, several panels, and two full days of screenings of stereoscopic (3D) films, commercials, sports events, games and scientific visualizations on the first day of the conference. 3D is the agenda for 21st-century digital releases. I took in the two-hour screening of 3D clips and then heard fine artist and installation/performance artist Catherine Owens speak about collaborating with Bono on the 3D film of U2's concert in Buenos Aires. She spoke convincingly about "experimental" exploration and commitment to "idea" in relationship to her personal art, as well as in relationship to her directorial debut of the film U2 3D.

2. The Computer Animation Festival is programmed into seven two-hour screenings that most often repeat the commercials, trailers, and synopses of film titles submitted. For example, Rhythm and Hues showcased effects scenes of the polar bears in "The Golden Compass" and that is screened alongside the commercial from Bridgestone Tires many have seen of the squirrel running onto the highway to retrieve a nut as a car swerves to miss killing him. The festival is screening two impressive studio shorts worth mentioning here: Pixar Studios' Presto and Disney Studios' Glago's Guest. If you've seen WALL-E you've seen Presto before the feature screens.

3) A wonderful Tribute To Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas happened today with Tom Sito moderating a panel that included Frank Thomas' son, Theodore Thomas, documentary filmmaker, as well as a group of celebrity animators who had worked with the two of them in a mentor relationship. All of them delightfully shared their experiences with Frank and Ollie and were very well received. More on this later.

A closing note in case you don't want to wait: you may go online to read about all the sessions at SIGGRAPH 08 and can listen to them on DVD. All panels and discussions have been recorded are available for purchase.

I have constantly forgotten the number one rule for attending film festivals and conferences: find a place to sit, eat well and if you do this, thinking might follow! That said, I will return to report more soon, in spite of the L.A. smog my allergies are swimming in...

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August 5, 2008


To an origami purist, cutting or tearing paper is like an old-school Catholic eating fish on Fridays; at best, it's frowned upon, and at worst someone thinks you're going to hell. Which is why it's all the more remarkable that Brian Chan makes his origami masterpieces like the Totoro nekobus above from just one sheet of uncut paper. Once you've finished checking out his nekobus gallery, you can also marvel at his paper WALL-E posed to recreate shots from the Pixar film, or watch the video below of him folding the sad-eyed robot.



[Thanks again to the Nausicaa.net Hayao Miyazaki mailing list.]

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August 1, 2008


- Studio Ghibli's Ponyo will screen at the 65th Venice International Film Festival (taking place at Venice Lido from August 27th to September 6th) along with Mamoru Oshii's The Sky Crawlers. Hayao Miyazaki will be in attendance and commented, "Lido is very beautiful place. I'm glad that I can walk there again." Via Ghibli Wiki

- Goro Miyazaki talks in depth about layout and the Studio Ghibli production process. Via Ghibli World

- CG images from the new Gatchaman movie with animation produced by Imagi are up at the felix ip。蟻速畫行 blog.

- WTF?! Is Keanu Reeves really going to end up playing Spike Spiegel in the upcoming live-action adaptation of Cowboy Bebop? Do I care? Via FirstShowing.net

- Is Pixar going to slap us with a sequel to Monsters Inc? Pete Doctor is playing coy but we think it's gonna happen. Straight to video anyone? Via MTV Movies Blog

- More high-def Harryhausen!!!! Sony is eyeing an October 7th release date for the 1958, stop-motion animation/live-action classic, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad on Blu-ray and standard DVD. Via HighDef Digest.com

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The Pixar Blog has posted 5 new images from the upcoming film, Up. If you don't work for Pixar and didn't attend the San Diego Comic Con, chances are you haven't seen these yet. Click on over to view them all in giant, decent-res glory!

Link: The Pixar Blog

Previously on fps:
Up Sneak Peek

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Disney: Blu-ray Sale at Amazon.com!

It appears that Amazon.com is ready to blow out some Disney and Pixar Blu-ray discs! In addition to a slew of live action titles, the online retailer is offering these animated films at a discount:

- Not only was this one of the best animated films to come out in ages, but it's also one of the most incredible Blu-ray discs you'll ever pick up. With reference quality video and audio and a veritable smorgasbord of extras, the Ratatouille Blu-ray disc is a must own! And at 40% off how can you resist the chance to show off your gear and prove to your spouse that you truly did need the high-def upgrade to your living room!


- While Cars didn't bowl me over the way other Pixar films have (What's with the shitty character design, Lasseter?) it's a solid effort that's fit for the whole family. The quality of the Blu-ray disc, on the other hand, is beyond reproach. Once again Disney has crafted a near perfect sensory experience, hampered only by some hinky menu design. Want to show off your system? The Cars Blu-ray will most certainly get the job done.



- This is an incredible collection of short animated films and we should count ourselves among the fortunate that Disney was kind enough to master a Blu-ray disc that affords them the finest, most vibrant and detailed presentation to date. While the overall quality is over the top, you'll notice that the older shorts, transfered from a film source (as opposed to the digital-to-digital transfers Pixar is known for) suffer slightly from softer, less-than-perfect video and uneven audio. I'm not grousing. I'm just saying...

Find more animated films like Meet the Robinsons and Dinosaur at the Disney Blu-ray Sale page.


And play those discs on the PS3, the best Blu-ray player on the market today!

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July 30, 2008


Disney isn't giving us a whole lot of insight into their upcoming film, The Princess and the Frog (directed by John Musker and Ron Clements, directors of The Little Mermaid and Aladdin) with this new trailer. But I don't care. This looks beautiful. Thank the lord for Ed Catmull, John Lasseter and the return of Disney's 2D animation division. 2009 can't come soon enough!

Watch the trailer in other formats: The Princess and the Frog

Read more: The Princess and the Frog Blu-ray Disc Review

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Amid Amidi of Cartoon Brew and Harry McCracken of Harry-Go-Round have both commented on the San Diego Comic Con preview of footage from Up and Bolt. Take a look at this teaser for Up.

Original Video- More videos at TinyPic

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July 15, 2008


- The classic Speed Racer animated series will finally be available as a box set on October 7th from Lionsgate. There is a mysterious 6th disc included in the collection which we're hoping will contain the bonus features sorely lacking on the individual DVDs. Via tvshowsondvd.com

- BET Networks and Marvel Animation have announced the impending arrival of a Black Panther animated series. A sneak preview will be screened at the San Diego Comic Con on July 26th. Via marketwatch.com

- Sony Pictures Animation is preparing to release it's premiere stereoscopic 3-D digital effort: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Via hollywoodreporter.com

- Live-action/animation hybrid, Go Girl has been greenlit for Canadian animation channel, Teletoon. Casting will take place via a Facebook events page and YouTube submissions. Via vfxworld.com

- Directing animator, Angus Lane shares insight into the animation process behind the film, Wall-E. via ign.com

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July 11, 2008


fps blogger Matt Forsythe joins some of the worlds greatest illustrators and animators in contributing art to the Totoro Forest Project: an international charity effort to preserve Sayama Forest, also known as Totoro Forest.

"Over 200 top international artists from animation, illustration, and comics are donating artwork especially created for this cause. On september 6th 2008 Pixar Animation Studios will be hosting an art auction event featuring all these fantastic pieces of art. All the proceeds of this fundraiser will benefit the Totoro Forest Foundation. On top of the auction we are producing a wonderful art book of the auction pieces and we’ve also managed to secure an exhibition at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco."


Visit Matt's blog to view his wonderful contribution to the project.

Read Enrico Casarosa's blog to learn more about how he, Dice Tsutsumi, Ronnie Del Carmen, and Yukino Pang at Pixar plan to save the forest.

Via Drawn.ca

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Well, what do you know? Looks like Britain loves Pixar more than Keira Knightley after all. Variety is reporting that despite the recent economic downturn, Her Majesty's loyal subjects have been shelling out for home entertainment discs in record amounts, with Ratatouille trouncing Atonement as the biggest seller to date.

“History has shown that in times of economic hardship, consumers find even more value in home entertainment when the leisure pound is stretched as it is,” commented Lavinia Carey, director general, BVA.

“As video is one of the most cost-effective forms of entertainment we would expect to see continued volume growth in our market as consumers tighten their belts in response to increasing economic uncertainty,” she added.

It seems, according to the article that the Blu-ray format has a lot to do with the recent gains in the market, citing a 506% growth, year to date.

via Variety.com

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June 27, 2008


I hate it—I mean, really hate it—that whenever an animated feature is reviewed, writers feel compelled to mention whether or not kids would like it. It's a testament to the fact that, regardless of what the individual writers, editors or publishers feel, the public at large still can't process the idea that adults might want to watch animated features for themselves.

Past responses to this prejudice have included making films that are most definitely not for children, making films that are mainly for kids but include nod-and-wink throwaway gags for adults, and making films that kids and adults can enjoy equally. These have worked to varying degrees, but they all carry with them a fairly standard idea of what children will watch and enjoy.

WALL-E is a bit different in this regard, because it expands the idea of what kids will find entertaining. When Cast Away was released eight years ago, a big deal was made of the fact that there was no dialogue for almost half the movie (in the literal sense; Tom Hanks's character did speak, but no one answered). A similar fuss is being made over the lack of dialogue in WALL-E, but the unspoken question is, will kids be able to sit still for a 103-minute film where the main characters rarely speak?

From the reactions of the kids in the audience (especially the ones in the row right behind me) on Wednesday night, the answer is yes. And in the same way that Tom Hanks's acting was credited for making the dialogue-free parts of Cast Away so compelling, the Pixar animators must be given props for the remarkable acting in WALL-E.

With one exception, none of the many robot characters in the movie can truly speak, and the two that do (WALL-E and EVE) pretty much only say their names, each other's names, and the word "directive." That means that every robot character has to rely on rigid bodies and eyes (or eye surrogates) to communicate and express emotion. Interestingly, WALL-E himself is among the least flexible of the movie's robots; he has treads instead of feet, a pair of rigid mechanical viewfinders instead of an eye-mimicking LED display, and unbendable arms with three flat "fingers" at the end.

In sum, the movie has to be carried by characters that can't speak and are all limited compared to human bodies, and the main character is in some ways the most limited. And it works, thanks to Pixar's careful application of animation's twin traditions of pantomime and bringing inanimate objects to life. There are several references in WALL-E to A113, an in-joke that refers to CalArts's old character animation classroom. In few other films is that gag as relevant as it is in WALL-E; the movie is such an accomplished expression of the pre-digital yet universal art of conveying emotion and story purely through movement that when human characters show up and start talking, they seem clumsy and inelegant in comparison.

So, yes, kids will like WALL-E, as will adults. And we have the art of animation to thank for that.

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March 13, 2008


The new Wall-E teaser trailer went up yesterday, and it's a good one. Oh, it doesn't tell us any more about the story than the previous teasers, but it does give us a little more about the title character's personality. (I still think the sad-eyes design is a bit of a cheat, but we'll see how it works out.) In fact, about a third of the QuickTime video has Wall-E interacting with Luxo, Jr. in front of the Pixar logo before there are any movie clips.

I haven't loved all of the Pixar trailers in the past, but when they get it right, it's perfect. remember the Toy Story teaser with Buzz "falling with style?" It told you everything you needed to know about the characters and set up Woody's animosity toward Buzz, didn't give away any plot points, and had you wanting to see the movie for reasons beyond the novelty of a feature-length CG film. I've never confirmed if Pixar cuts their own trailers, but I strongly suspect it; if more studios did that, I probably wouldn't spend the first fifteen minutes at the movies figuring out where to put my popcorn.

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February 24, 2008


Brad Bird accepted the Academy Award 25 minutes ago for Best Animated Feature Film for Ratatouille. In his acceptance speech, Bird thanked Pixar, Disney, John Lasseter, Steve Jobs, Ed Catmull, Brad Lewis, Jan Pinkava, and Dick Cook. Ratatouille edged out Surf's Up and Persepolis to win the Oscar.

Suzie Templeton and Hugh Welchman won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for Peter and the Wolf, beating out I Met the Walrus, Madame Tutli-Putli, Même les Pigeons vont au Paradis and My Love.

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January 22, 2008
Today, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the 2008 Oscar nominees. For all the concern of Beowulf getting a spot, the worry was for naught. The shorts are diverse, in technique, storytelling and geography.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Persepolis (Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, France)
Ratatouille (Brad Bird, US)
Surf's Up (Ash Brannon and Chris Buck, US)

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM

Even Pigeons Go To Heaven (Samuel Tourneux and Simon Vanesse, France) entire short
I Met The Walrus (Josh Raskin, Canada) clip
Madame Tutli-Putli (Chris Lavis & Maciek Szczerbowski, Canada) clip
My Love (Alexander Petrov, Russia) clip
Peter and The Wolf (Suzie Templeton and Hugh Welchman, UK) clip

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January 9, 2008
In New York and have some free time Thursday afternoon? Head over to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) to see fully restored versions of the three Popeye Color Specials by Fleischer Studios: Popeye the Sailor Meets Sinbad the Sailor, Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba's Forty Thieves, and Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp.

The screening is part of Still Moving, a film series focusing on MoMA's media collection. January's schedule pays special attention to animation. Other screenings include Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, A Bug's Life, and Studio Ghibli's My Neighbors the Yamadas.

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December 19, 2007
The latest WALL-E trailer has been posted on MySpace.


Don't forget to visit the Buy N Large website, based on the film's fictional company.

Did I mention I love robots? I love robots.

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November 19, 2007
Review by Noell Wolfgram Evans

The recent release of The Pixar Short Film Collection Vol. 1 shows the studio's utter mastery of the animated form. Watching these pieces must be what it would have been like to watch Babe Ruth in his prime—you understood what he was doing but it was difficult to comprehend how he was doing it so well. All that you could do was sit back and enjoy. And that's really all that you can, and should, do with this short film set.

Read the review

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October 7, 2007
Nostalgia is an essential component of the DVD-release landscape, and the next few months feature more than a few wistful looks back, especially to the 1980s. The entire Megazone 23 series, the first of which I described as "utterly immersed in its era," comes out in a box set in December, as do Super Dimension Century Orguss, Nobody's Boy Remi and the first season of Cat's Eye. From the Western side of things, there's the first collection of Pixar shorts, as well as the next Voltron release. Step a bit farther back than the leg-warmer era and you get the indescribably addictive badness of the late-'60s Rocket Robin Hood (only from Warner Canada, but if you're really jonesing our links point to Amazon.ca), but you also get this year's Walt Disney Treasures releases. The most pleasant surprise, however, is something you may never have seen: the DVD release of the Chinese feature Princess Iron Fan, which Noel Vera admired in his essay on Chinese animation a few years ago.

New titles:

October:
10/9 - Fate/Stay Night Vol. 6: The Holy Grail Limited Edition (DVD)
10/9 - Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination (Paperback) (Book)
10/15 - 3ds Max 9.0: Accelerated (Paperback) (Book)
10/15 - After Class Lesson Box Set (Adult) (DVD)
10/15 - All About Techniques in Drawing for Animation Production (Paperback) (Book)
10/15 - Hot Juicy Teacher Box Set (Adult) (DVD)
10/15 - Slutty Princess Diaries Box Set (Adult) (DVD)
10/16 - Cat's Eye Vol. 3 (DVD)
10/16 - Cat's Eye Vol. 4 (DVD)
10/16 - Nobody's Boy Remi Vol. 3 (DVD)
10/16 - Nobody's Boy Remi Vol. 4 (DVD)
10/16 - Super Dimension Century Orguss Vol. 3 (DVD)
10/16 - Super Dimension Century Orguss Vol. 4 (DVD)
10/23 - Rocket Robin Hood Vol. 1 (DVD)
10/23 - Rocket Robin Hood Vol. 2 (DVD)
10/25 - Art of Bee Movie (Hardcover) (Book)
10/25 - Hanna-Barbera Retro Gift Set (DVD)
10/25 - LightWave 3D 8 Modeling: A Definitive Guide (Paperback) (Book)
10/30 - Bizarre Cartoons of the Past (DVD)
10/30 - Holidaze: The Christmas That Almost Didn't Happen (DVD)
10/30 - Polar Express (Blu-ray)
10/30 - TV Animation Gift Set (DVD)
10/30 - We Are the Strange (DVD)

November:
11/1 - Human Motion: Understanding, Modelling, Capture and Animation (Hardcover) (Book)
11/2 - Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects, Fourth Edition: Essential and Advanced Techniques (Paperback) (Book)
11/6 - Ah My Goddess Season 2 Vol. 4: I'm a Believer (DVD)
11/6 - Animated Family Favorites 3-Movie Collection (DVD)
11/6 - Best of Blu-ray: Happy Feet/Tim Burton's Corpse Bride/The Ant Bully/Scooby-Doo (Blu-ray)
11/6 - Bettle Bailey: The Complete Collection (DVD)
11/6 - Burn Up!/Plastic Little 2-Pack (DVD)
11/6 - Cars (Blu-ray)
11/6 - Cat's Eye Vol. 5 (DVD)
11/6 - Cat's Eye Vol. 6 (DVD)
11/6 - Di Gi Charat Nyo! Vol. 4 (DVD)
11/6 - Flag Vol. 1 (DVD)
11/6 - Flag Vol. 1 Limited Edition + artbox (DVD)
11/6 - Gantz Perfect Score Collection (DVD)
11/6 - Gundam Seed Destiny Vol. 11 (DVD)
11/6 - Guyver Vol. 7: Armor of the Gods (DVD)
11/6 - Mars Daybreak Collection (Anime Legends) (DVD)
11/6 - Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Vol. 4 (DVD)
11/6 - Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Vol. 4 Special Limited Edition (DVD)
11/6 - Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya: Character Song Volume 5: Ryoko (CD)
11/6 - Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya: Character Song Volume 7: Emiri (CD)
11/6 - Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya: Character Song Volume 8: Itsuki (CD)
11/6 - Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya: Haruhi no Tsumeawase (CD)
11/6 - My-Otome Vol. 3 (DVD)
11/6 - Nobody's Boy Remi Vol. 5 (DVD)
11/6 - Nobody's Boy Remi Vol. 6 (DVD)
11/6 - Once Upon a Time: A Storybook Collection (DVD)
11/6 - Pixar Short Films Collection Vol. 1 (Blu-ray)
11/6 - Pixar Short Films Collection Vol. 1 (DVD)
11/6 - Popeye's Voyage: Quest for Pappy (DVD)
11/6 - Princess Iron Fan (DVD)
11/6 - Ratatouille (Blu-ray)
11/6 - Ratatouille (DVD)
11/6 - Super Dimension Century Orguss Vol. 5 (DVD)
11/6 - Super Dimension Century Orguss Vol. 6 (DVD)
11/6 - Tide-Line Blue Vol. 4 (DVD)
11/11 - SOS! Tokyo Metro Explorers: The Next (Blu-ray)
11/11 - SOS! Tokyo Metro Explorers: The Next (DVD)
11/11 - The Shrek Trilogy (DVD)
11/13 - Blade of the Phantom Master: Shin Angyo Onshi (DVD)
11/13 - DuckTales Vol. 3 (DVD)
11/13 - Eureka Seven Vol. 10 (DVD)
11/13 - Eureka Seven Vol. 10 Special Edition (DVD)
11/13 - Scooby-Doo Gift Set (DVD)
11/13 - Shadow Skill Complete Collection (DVD)
11/13 - Shrek the Third (HD DVD)
11/13 - Sonic X: New World Saga (DVD)
11/13 - TaleSpin Vol. 2 (DVD)
11/13 - Ugly Duckling and Me: Yard Party (DVD)
11/13 - Venus Versus Virus Vol. 1: Outbreak (DVD)
11/13 - Xenosaga Vol. 2: Voices From the Past (DVD)
11/13 - Zorro: Return to the Future (DVD)
11/16 - Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams: Japanese Science Fiction from Origins to Anime (hardcover) (Book)
11/19 - Adobe After Effects CS3 Professional Studio Techniques (Paperback) (Book)
11/20 - Death Note Vol. 1 + manga vol. 1 (DVD)
11/20 - Fruits Basket Box Set (DVD)
11/20 - Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig Box Set (DVD)
11/20 - Jing, King of Bandits: Seventh Heaven (DVD)
11/20 - Karas The Prophecy/The Revelation 2-Pack (DVD)
11/20 - My Friends Tigger and Pooh: Super Sleuth Christmas Movie (DVD)
11/20 - Princess Tutu Complete Collection (DVD)
11/20 - Red Garden Vol. 2: Breaking the Girls (DVD)
11/20 - Red Garden Vol. 2: Breaking the Girls + artbox (DVD)
11/20 - Super Mario Bros./Sonic the Hedgehog Box Set (DVD)
11/27 - Air Vol. 4 (DVD)
11/27 - Futurama the Movie: Bender's Big Score (DVD)
11/27 - Imma Youjo: The Erotic Temptress Vol. 4: The Bewitching Countess (Adult) (DVD)
11/27 - Jin-Roh (Blu-ray)
11/27 - Land Before Time: Good Times and Good Friends (DVD)
11/27 - Land Before Time: The Wisdom of Friends (DVD)
11/27 - Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi Perfect Collection (DVD)
11/27 - Nadia, Secret of Blue Water Perfect Collection (DVD)
11/27 - Neon Genesis Evangelion Platinum Perfect Collection (DVD)
11/27 - Paprika (Blu-ray)
11/27 - Paprika (DVD)
11/27 - Return to Never Land Pixie-Powered Edition (DVD)
11/27 - Third, The: The Girl with the Blue Eye Vol. 3 (DVD)
11/27 - Third, The: The Girl with the Blue Eye Vol. 3 Limited Edition + artbox + puzzles (DVD)
11/30 - Learning with Animation: Research Implications for Design (Hardcover) (Book)

December:
12/4 - .hack//Roots Original Soundtrack 1 (CD)
12/4 - .hack//Roots Vol. 5 (DVD)
12/4 - Air Gear Vol. 6: Kill 'Em Dead (DVD)
12/4 - Aqua Teen Hunger Force Vol. 5 (DVD)
12/4 - Basilisk Vol. 3: Parting of the Ways (DVD)
12/4 - Basilisk Vol. 4: Tokaido Road (DVD)
12/4 - Cat's Eye Season 1 Collection (DVD)
12/4 - Cat's Eye Vol. 7 (DVD)
12/4 - Cat's Eye Vol. 8 (DVD)
12/4 - Curious George lays in the Snow & Other Awesome Activities (DVD)
12/4 - Desert Punk Vol. 5: Under the Desert (DVD)
12/4 - Desert Punk Vol. 6: Death of the Desert (DVD)
12/4 - Dragon Half/Puni Pui Poemy 2-Pack (DVD)
12/4 - Flag Vol. 2 (DVD)
12/4 - Galaxy Angel AA Vol. 4 (DVD)
12/4 - Hell Girl Vol. 2 (DVD)
12/4 - Highlander: The Complete Animated Series (DVD)
12/4 - Lost Universe Collection (DVD)
12/4 - Magikano Vol. 1: A New Witch in Town (DVD)
12/4 - Midori Days: The Handheld Collection (DVD)
12/4 - Ninja Nonsense Collection Limited Edition (DVD)
12/4 - Nobody's Boy Remi Collection (DVD)
12/4 - Nobody's Boy Remi Vol. 7 (DVD)
12/4 - Nobody's Boy Remi Vol. 8 (DVD)
12/4 - Phoenix Vol. 2: Eternal Recurrance (DVD)
12/4 - Ragnarok Vol. 1 (DVD)
12/4 - Samurai 7 Vol. 7: Guardians of the Rice (DVD)
12/4 - Street Fighter Alpha 2-Pack (DVD)
12/4 - Super Dimension Century Orguss Collection (DVD)
12/4 - Super Dimension Century Orguss Vol. 7 (DVD)
12/4 - Super Dimension Century Orguss Vol. 8 (DVD)
12/4 - Tom and Jerry Tales Vol. 3 (DVD)
12/4 - Wallace & Gromit: Three Amazing Adventures (DVD)
12/4 - Welcome to the NHK Vol. 2 (DVD)
12/4 - Welcome to the NHK Vol. 2 + series box (DVD)
12/4 - Zegapain Vol. 2 (DVD)
12/11 - Air: The Movie (DVD)
12/11 - Flower and Snake: The Animation (Adult) (DVD)
12/11 - Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 5: The Cost of Living (DVD)
12/11 - Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 6: Captured Souls (DVD)
12/11 - Kurau: Phantom Memory Vol. 5: Twin Destinies (DVD)
12/11 - Maya 2008 Character Modeling and Animation: Principles and Practice (paperback) (Book)
12/11 - Megazone 23 Complete Collection (DVD)
12/11 - My Santa Special (DVD)
12/11 - Pumpkin Scissors Vol. 2: The Enemy Within (DVD)
12/11 - Pumpkin Scissors Vol. 2: The Enemy Within + series box (DVD)
12/11 - Tenchi Muyo GXP Box Set (DVD)
12/11 - Tokyo Majin Vol. 1: Dark Arts: Dragon Stream (DVD)
12/11 - Voltron: Defender of the Universe Vol. 5 (DVD)
12/11 - Walt Disney Treasures: Chronological Donald Vol. 3 (DVD)
12/11 - Walt Disney Treasures: Disneyland: Secrets, Stories and Magic (DVD)
12/11 - Walt Disney Treasures: The Adventures of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (DVD)
12/18 - Cinderella II: Dreams Come True Special Edition (widescreen) (DVD)
12/18 - Ghost In The Shell 2nd Gig: Individual Eleven (DVD)
12/18 - Innocent Venus Vol. 3: End of the New Beginning (DVD)
12/18 - Le Chevalier D'Eon Vol. 6: Bête Noire (DVD)
12/18 - Princess Princess Collection (DVD)
12/18 - School Rumble Vol. 4 (DVD)
12/18 - Simpsons: The Movie (widescreen) (DVD)
12/18 - Sonic Underground (DVD)
12/18 - Sorcerer Hunters Perfect Collection (DVD)
12/18 - Trinity Blood Vol. 3 (DVD)
12/18 - Trinity Blood Vol. 4 (DVD)
12/18 - Underdog Ultimate Collection (DVD)
12/18 - Wallflower, The Vol. 1: My Fair Bishonen (DVD)
12/18 - Yu Yu Hakusho Eight (episodes 99-112) (DVD)
12/21 - On Animation: The Director's Perspective: Official AWN Masters (Paperback) (Book)
12/26 - From Impressionism to Anime: Japan as Fantasy and Fan Culture in the Mind of the West (hardcover) (Book)
12/26 - Veggie Tales: Larry Boy and the Fib/The Rumor Weed (DVD)
12/26 - Veggie Tales: Madame Blueberry/Esther Girl Who Would Be Queen (DVD)
12/26 - Veggie Tales: Sheerluck Holmes and the Golden Ruler/Ballad of Little (DVD)

January 2008:
1/1 - The Idea of Nature in Disney Animation (Hardcover) (Book)
1/3 - Introducing 3ds Max 2008 (paperback) (Book)
1/8 - All-New Superfriends Hour: Season One Vol. 1 (DVD)
1/8 - Naruto Vol. 19 (DVD)
1/15 - Bleach Vol. 7 (DVD)
1/15 - Hikaru no Go Vol. 12 (DVD)
1/15 - Medabots: The Complete First Season (DVD)
1/15 - Prince of Tennis Box Set 4 (DVD)
1/29 - Death Note Vol. 3 (DVD)
1/29 - Death Note Vol. 3 Deluxe Edition + figure (DVD)
1/29 - Naruto Vol. 20 (DVD)
1/29 - Ranma 1/2: Season 5 Box Set: Martial Mayhem (DVD)

February 2008:
2/1 - Stepping into the Picture: Cartoon Designer Maurice Noble (hardcover) (Book)
2/5 - Noddy Vol. 4: Taxi Service (DVD)
2/12 - Mar Vol. 5 (DVD)
2/12 - Naruto Box Set 6 (uncut) (DVD)
2/12 - Naruto Box Set 6 Special Edition (DVD)
2/12 - Pokemon Season 1 Box Set 3 (DVD)
2/25 - Fundamentals of Character Animation (paperback) (Book)

May 2008:
5/1 - The Animation Bible: A Practical Guide to the Art of Animating from Flipbooks to Flash (paperback) (Book)

September 2008:
9/23 - 3D Animation for Teens (paperback) (Book)

Date changes:

October:
10/9 - When They Cry Vol. 3 (DVD)
10/16 - Veggie Tales: Wonderful Wizard of Ha's (DVD)
10/23 - Galaxy Angel AA Vol. 3 (DVD)
10/23 - Inu Yasha Season 4 Box Set Deluxe Edition (DVD)

November:
11/1 - To Infinity and Beyond!: The Story of Pixar Animation Studios (hardcover) (Book)
11/13 - Naruto the Movie Deluxe Edition (DVD)
11/20 - Fullmetal Alchemist Box Set 2 (DVD)
11/20 - Hanna-Barbera Treasury, The (hardcover) (Book)
11/27 - Anime Studio: The eFrontier Official Guide (paperback) (Book)
11/27 - Gunslinger Girl Box Set (DVD)
11/27 - Mobile Suit Gundam IGLOO: Hidden One Year War Vol. 1 (DVD)
11/27 - Spiral Box Set (DVD)
11/30 - After Effects CS3 for Windows and Macintosh: Visual QuickPro Guide (paperback) (Book)

December:
12/4 - Character Animation with Poser 7 (paperback) (Book)
12/5 - Yoshitaka Amano: The Collected Art of Vampire Hunter D (Book)
12/25 - Mar Vol. 4 (DVD)

March 2008:
3/18 - Maya Feature Creature Creations, Second Edition (paperback) (Book)

October 2008:
10/1 - Disney's Animation Magic (paperback) (Book)

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July 20, 2007
Back in the bad old days of VHS, a company called Good Times would routinely release cheap (as in inexpensive, and as in shoddy) knockoffs of Disney features while they were still in the cinema. Animation fans theorized that harried parents would remember the name Pocahontas from all the advertising, spot it near the grocery checkout, and snap it up, relieved that they were able to preserve their kids' pop-culture cred so easily.

I have no idea if Good Times is still in business, but their spiritual successor, the ironically named Inspired Corporation, is tackling Pixar's works with gusto. On the heels of Little Cars 2, itself a sequel to the knockoff Little Cars, comes Ratatoing, which I spotted in Hollywood@Home, a home-video trade mag (coincidentally co-founded by longtime occasional fps contributor Marc Elias). Click the graphic at left to see the ad in all its horror. I love how shameless they are compared to Good Times; check the enticing copy on the right: "Inspired by Disney's upcoming hit Ratatouille," and "Capitalize on the huge buzz stirred from Disney."

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July 19, 2007
Review by Mark Mayerson

While Pixar is one of the most advanced computer animation facilities in existence, before they bring their programming smarts and processing power to bear, they start with the art.

The Art of Ratatouille concentrates on displaying that art. The book is full of drawings, paintings and sculptures showing how the characters and sets evolved before the nuts and bolts of computer animation were applied.

Read the review

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June 29, 2007
Review by Terrence Briggs

Ratatouille is Pixar's best film since Toy Story.

It may lack the rapid-fire whimsy of Toy Story's dialogue, but it tells a more nuanced and imaginative story than Toy Story 2, with fewer softball cultural references. As in Iron Giant and The Incredibles, Brad Bird grounds the characters with largely believable dialogue, and goes through amazing pains to legitimize its many narrative conceits. It's drop-dead gorgeous, almost the equal of Finding Nemo, with more elaborately choreographed action.

Read the review

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June 18, 2007
It's rare that we run more than one contest at a time, but sometimes we're just bursting with giveaway goodness. We're giving two winners a two full passes each for next week's Platform International Animation Festival, and another two winners are getting a copy The Art of Ratatouille, which features 160 pages of art and text (text? No, really, we get it for the pictures) about the making of Pixar's latest feature. You can enter the Platform contest here and the Art of Ratatouille contest here. The contests close 1t 11:59 p.m. on June 22 and June 29, respectively.

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June 12, 2007
Pixar has announced that their 2009 feature will be titled Up, making it the most concisely titled animated feature ever, at least until Shane Acker's 9 comes out. According to Variety, the movie will be about "a 70-year-old man who teams with a wilderness ranger to fight beasts and villains." That's just vague enough that I went straight to Up helmer Pete Docter and asked if he could provide even a little more detail at this early date. For instance, is the movie set in the past, present or future? "It's set in the present," he said, "But I'm not supposed to say much more than has already been printed—other than it's going to be really cool!" Hopefully he'll be more forthcoming before the movie's June 12, 2009 debut.

The Mouse goes to Bollywood: In an effort to crack the Indian market, Disney is teaming up with Yash Raj Films to co-produce Bollywood-style animated features, voiced by Bollywood stars. It's a step up from, say, pitching Mulan to Chinese audiences, but it'd be really cool if Disney set up an exchange program between the Indian studio and Feature Animation in the States. It's a small world, after all.

You know we're gleefully anticipating Astro Boy Essays: Osamu Tezuka, Mighty Atom, and the Manga/Anime Revolution, but gnash our teeth mightily while waiting for its September release date. Happily, we can get a taste when author Frederik L. Schodt chats with KQED's Michael Krasny next Tuesday, between 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time. (If you miss it, you can download the archived podcast a bit later.) Oh, did I mention it's a call-in show? You can phone in with questions during the show at 415-863-2476 or 1-866-SF-FORUM (866-733-6786; toll free).

I had no idea there was such a thing as the Canadian Skills Competition, let alone that the thirteenth instalment happened last last week. And imagine my surprise at discovering that the "Olympic-style competitions that test the skills of young people at secondary and post-secondary levels in trade and technology areas" include animation! Specifically, there are two team events titled 3D Character Computer Animation and 2D Character Computer Animation. Congratulations to the winners, but of course I'm a little irked that animation is being considered a technology skill more than an artistic one.

I'm not a huge fan of '80s TV, and frankly the thought of another He-Man and the Masters of the Universe movie bewilders me. (The Transformers movie, less so. The smart money has long known to bet on robot smackdowns.) But it's now been confirmed that Warner will be making the Thundercats movie as a CGI feature. Okay, they've got a cool logo and all, but... why? I know, I know, there's a fan base. But... why?

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May 7, 2007
Two of the hottest recent titles in anime come to Blu-ray... in Japan. Fortunately, Paprika and Tekkon Kinkreet are available by mail-order and viewable on North American Blu-ray players. You just kinda have to get past the lack of subtitles. Hey, there's a reason they say patience is a virtue.

Meanwhile, check out the upcoming art books, including two for Ghibli faves The Cat Returns and Nausicaä, and scope the new nine-minute teaser for Ratatouille.

New titles:

May:
5/23 - Paprika (Japanese release) (Blu-ray)

June:
6/27 - Tekkon Kinkreet (Japanese release; includes DVD edition) (Blu-ray)

July:
7/10 - Initial D Season 2 Box Set (DVD)
7/17 - Hare+Guu OVA Vol. 2 (DVD)
7/24 - Yu Yu Hakusho Sixth Sense (episodes 71-84) (DVD)

August:
8/21 - Horny Ladies and the News (Adult) (DVD)
8/28 - Project Boobs (Adult) (DVD)
8/28 - Story of Saiunkoku Vol. 1 (DVD)
8/28 - Story of Saiunkoku Vol. 1 + artbox (DVD)

September:
9/11 - Beet the Vandal Buster Vol. 3 (DVD)
9/25 - BoBoBo-Bo Bo-BoBo Vol. 5 (DVD)
9/25 - Voltron: Defender of the Universe Vol. 4 (DVD)

October:
10/2 - Art of Naruto: Uzumaki Art Book (hardcover) (Book)
10/2 - Cat Returns Picture Book (hardcover) (Book)
10/16 - Art of Angel Sanctuary Book 2 (hardcover) (Book)
10/16 - Art of Fullmetal Alchemist Book 2 (hardcover) (Book)
10/23 - Beet the Vandal Buster Vol. 4 (DVD)
10/30 - Beat B'tX Vol. 5 (DVD)
10/31 - Megami DX Artbook Vol. 1 (paperback) (Book)

November:
11/6 - BoBoBo-Bo Bo-BoBo Vol. 6 (DVD)
11/6 - Nausicaa Watercolor Impressions Art Book (paperback) (Book)

December:
12/4 - Beet the Vandal Buster Vol. 5 (DVD)
12/18 - BoBoBo-Bo Bo-BoBo Vol. 7 (DVD)
12/25 - AM Driver Vol. 3 (DVD)

January:
1/29 - BoBoBo-Bo Bo-BoBo Vol. 8 (DVD)

Date changes:

June:
6/26 - Beat B'tX Vol. 2 (DVD)

July:
7/3 - BoBoBo-Bo Bo-BoBo Vol. 3 (DVD)
7/10 - Desert Punk Box Set (DVD)
7/10 - GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka Semester 1 (DVD)
7/31 - Beet the Vandal Buster Vol. 2 (DVD)

August:
8/7 - Beat B'tX Vol. 3 (DVD)
8/14 - BoBoBo-Bo Bo-BoBo Vol. 4 (DVD)

September:
9/18 - Beat B'tX Vol. 4 (DVD)

October:
10/2 - AM Driver Vol. 1 (DVD)

November:
11/13 - AM Driver Vol. 2 (DVD)

New movie previews:
Ratatouille (Movie)

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February 25, 2007
Defending the nominees for Best Animated Feature Film isn't as hard this year. All three nominees feature accomplishments that outweigh their most glaring flaws. The films share the familiar, family-friendly buoyancy typical of American animated filmmaking, but that familiarity shouldn't overshadow their unique achievements.

Read the commentary

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February 10, 2007
We'd heard the rumblings before, but now they've made it official and told the world: Disney is getting back into the hand-drawn feature animation game, with John Musker and Ron Clements (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Treasure Planet) returning to direct The Frog Princess. On the 3D side of things, the retooled American Dog (Chris Williams has replaced Chris Sanders as director) is slated for next year, while Pixar's Lee Unkrich makes his directorial debut with Toy Story 3 in 2009.

It looks like Disney is getting its production groove back, but we won't know for sure until we see how these three first films of the Disney/Pixar era play out on the big screen. We'll see in'08.

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November 6, 2006
Blood Tea & Red String (DVD)
Thirteen years in the making, Christiane Cegavske's wordless stop-motion fever dream of a movie is at times disturbing, mesmerizing, and strangely sweet—sometimes all at the same time. —Emru Townsend

Cars (fullscreen) (DVD)
Cars (widescreen) (DVD)
The bad news is that it's Pixar's worst feature to date. The good news is that Pixar's worst is still funny and enjoyable while bearing the stamp of its director. If only every feature could be so "bad." —Emru Townsend

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June 9, 2006
Cars is Pixar's latest theatrical release. It's really a compendium of the animation industry's (and particularly Pixar's) greatest hits. Unfortunately, as with most compendiums, it's strong in some areas and lacking in others.

Read the entire review

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June 5, 2006
Cars, the WebsiteNot that Disney's Cars is in need of any additional PR, I must say the Cars website is slicker than a dragstrip coated in oil. The 360° 'Auto Spin' showroom is especially fun; be sure to take Ramone for a spin! There's also coloring book pages, printable stickers, memory games, mazes, and more. Some great detailed high res 'portraits' too.

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April 12, 2006
At an A.G. Edwards conference yesterday, Disney chairman Dick Cook gushed that the Pixar-Disney integration is "happening better than we had ever dreamed it would." Most interesting was the news that the combined studios aims to make release two animated features a year—one from each studio. Dreamworks has long had the same goal, but this strikes me as a better idea because it's not that far off from what Disney and Pixar were doing separately before. It'll still require ramping up (including the forthcoming Cars, Pixar averages a film every 18 months; in the same period Disney's feature studios averaged slightly over one film a year, but they had a larger staff than they do now), but it's not as much of a stretch. And frankly, Dreamworks movies haven't done much for me for a long time. (Though I will admit I've yet to see either Shrek—but then, I've never had any urge to.)

Cook also made the unsurprising assertion that the deluge of animated films that starts this year will lead to a shakeout. But then, how could it not? Eager to cash in on the public's supposedly insatiable appetite for CGI films, various studios have popped up and offered minor variations on the same formula: sassy, talking critters and celebrity casting. At least this time the boom-and-bust cycle will be quicker (and less tumultuous) than the last one.

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February 25, 2006
If you live across the pond and have been silently cursing because you couldn't catch the Pixar: 20 Years of Animation exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art, you can stop gnashing your teeth. The exhibit will be moving to London's Science Museum starting April 1. Looks like Kino Kid and I have an excuse to go visit our cousins.

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January 31, 2006
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominees for the 78th Annual Acedemy Awards this morning, including:


BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM OF THE YEAR

Badgered
(Sharon Colman, dir.;
National Film and Television School) watch clip

The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation
(John Canemaker, dir.; John Canemaker and Peggy Stern)

The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello
(Anthony Lucas, 3d Films) watch the trailer

9
(Shane Acker)

One Man Band
(
Andrew Jimenez and Mark Andrews, dirs.; Pixar)

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM OF THE YEAR

Howl’s Moving Castle
(directed by Hayao Miyazaki)

Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride
(directed by Tim Burton and Mike Johnson)

Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit
(directed by Nick Park and Steve Box)

Good luck to all nominees!

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